In 1870 Southern California was just beginning to attract attention as a resort for invalids, and also to call the interest of investors, struck by the large returns yielded by orchards and vineyards. In the spring of that year a party came to Los Angeles to select lands suitable for the settlement of a colony to engage in the culture of grapes and semitropical fruits. Among other objective points they visited in San Bernardino County the tract which had been chosen by the Sericultural Association, and were convinced that it possessed every essential requisite for the success of the proposed colony. Accordingly, on September 14, 1870, were purchased from the stockholders of the Silk Center Association all the real estate, water rights and franchises of the company. After the consummation of this purchase, an incorporated organization was formed, under the name of “The Southern California Colony Association.”
These pioneers were so few in number that their names can be recorded; they were: Judge John W. North, Dr. James P. Greves, Dr. Sanford Eastman, E. G. Brown, Dr. K. D. Shugart, A. J. Twogood, D. C. Twogood, John Broadhurst, James A. Stewart and William J. Linville. Nine of these gentlemen still live to enjoy the wonderful transformations that are taking place about them.
The first families to arrive were installed in September. During the next two months the lands were surveyed and platted, the water system begun, and other active operations carried forward.
The first building erected in the settlement-was the office of the company, built on the land afterward occupied by the depot of the Riverside, Santa Ana & Los Angeles Railway Company.
The first child born in the settlement was a daughter of John Broadhurst, born December 26, 1870. The first born in Riverside was a daughter of A. R. Smith, born March 31, 1871.
The first religions services were held in the company’s office, the officiating clergymen being Revs. Higbie and Bates, respectively Methodist Episcopal and Congregational, and Rev. C. F. Loop, Episcopal.
The first resident clergyman was Rev. J. W. Atherton, during whose administration was built the first church edifice (Congregational).
In 1871 the citizens built the first schoolhouse, a frame building, which cost $1,200.
The first merchant in Riverside was E. Ames, who built in 1870-’71, a house still given to commercial purposes. In 1875 B. D. Buet & Brother erected the first brick building in Riverside. It was 25 x 70 feet and two stories high.